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Conferees Try To Find Compromise

by Mike Austin

The art of compromise will certainly have to be on display for the House and Senate Conferees to find common ground and come up with a new long term farm bill that can be found palatable to both houses of congress and the president. The long awaited opening session did occur this week and although the 41 members limited their dialogue to opening statements, they were pretty telling in making an outsider realize its going to take some real give and take for an agreement to be reached on the very contentious issue of the SNAP and Nutrition title. Chairman Lucas who certainly will need to work his magic, opened by saying that the committee has a responsibility to put policy in place that is good for farmers and consumers. Ranking House Democrat Colin Peterson expressed hope that a farm bill could be written if outside sources left it to the committee to get the job done. Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow highlighted all the good things that are contained in the Senate version saying it represents major farm bill reforms and stops people who don't farm from getting taxpayer subsidies. But she also warned that although the SNAP and Nutrition difference in cuts between the Senate and the House bills are major, she added that other differences must be worked out as well. the included dairy, Title 1 and the energy titles. And to add a little more drama to the proceeding representative Steve King made it clear that the snap program is out of control and that what the senate has offered in its version of the farm bill isn't even close to being a solution.

Farm groups shared guarded optimism after the opening session, many admitting it won't be easy to get a long term bill done. But added that Congress has gone so far in the process it would be a shame to give up the fight now. As for the option of yet another farm bill extension, nobody that I talked to or read feels that is the right way to go. So the goal is set, the lines have been drawn and the January 1st deadline for elevated dairy prices are on the horizon. The art of compromise, is this committee capable of creating a Masterpiece.? We should know sometime in December.